Posts Tagged ‘music’

To The Moon – new videos,a ukulele,several hats,swans & a telescope

To The Moon is a new collective of musicians I’ve been playing with lately (with songs and lead vocals by the gorgeously voiced Matt Kilford). There is lots more coming from them but a couple of videos we made over the summer in some beautiful settings (with hats, swans, a ukulele and a gigantic telescope) have gone up online recently.

It’d be lovely if you could share them around and or/join the mailing list to find out what will be happening next but it would be even better if you could watch these links and enjoy the music :)

‘Photograph’ (WARNING-this is a catchy little minx of a song and it features my blindingly new hi hats.Wear sunglasses if necessary.)

‘Eve of the morning sun’

To find out more about To The Moon click here


Brian Frasier-Moore interview (Madonna,Christina Aguilera,Janet Jackson etc)

Brian Frasier-Moore – Madonna

Brian with ‘that’ kit

Interview with Brian Frasier-Moore

Brian Frasier-Moore knows a thing or two about playing for the biggest acts on the planet. The Goodie Mob, Jazzy Jeff, Aaliyah, Jill Scott, Usher, Janet Jackson, Christina Aguilera, Justin Timberlake and Patti Labelle are just a few of the people he has played for over the years and now he is on tour with Madonna. I met up with Brian the morning after Madonna’s Hyde Park gig to find out what it takes to hold the drum chair for the Queen of Pop.

How did it all start for you and your playing?

I grew up in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I grew up playing in church; my dad is a preacher. I was a little kid running around banging on stuff so that’s where I got my start at the age of maybe five or six. It was a great start for me with all the responsibility as a little kid.

How did you develop your playing so that you got to the level where you started touring?

I’m not sure if people have the opportunity to go to a Pentecostal church but there’s a lot of different styles of music and time signatures. I think that growing up in that environment prepared me for the responsibilities of what these professional gigs need; being on time, being well groomed, being a people person. All of those things come into play and maybe that’s why I’ve been blessed to have these amazing experiences… because of skill level on drums, although I don’t think of myself like that but I think the other things around it make up for what it needs to be.

When I first started out with the Whitehead brothers, Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince and things like that, those different styles of music that were in me help me now. I’ve played with different artists from Goodie Mob to Madonna, which is very different, so I’m grateful for that.

Would you say the Whitehead Brothers was your first big break?

Well, big break, yes.

How did that happen?

It was a Philadelphia based group. One of the guys’ fathers is Whitehead from McFadden and Whitehead and it was all the most popular musicians at home so that was really my big break.

A quick story is it was our first show here in Hammersmith. We were hyped before the show, ”We’re going to kill it and have fun!’. We opened up for Blackstreet and afterwards we were, ”Yeah! We killed it. We killed it!” and then the intro of Blackstreet, that’s when Gerald Heyward was playing drums, the intro came on and completely changed our whole world! From that point on, learning from Gerald about drum sounds, how they need to be thick, the selection of drums and wood came into play because my drums sounded so thin! That was my big break in gigs and understanding how it goes.

What did you do next?

After that it was Ginuwine and Aaliyah. That came about from a musical director in Philly as well. We did both of those on the same tour; we would play with Ginuwine then run back, change our clothes and go play with Aaliyah. That boosted me for Christina, which I had to audition for. That was a three day audition. It just seems that I’ve been really blessed.

So you worked with Christina right from the start?

Yes, from her first record. ‘Bionic’ was the last record and the last time I worked with her. It’s been 10 years that I’ve worked with her but all good things have to come to an end at some point. We had a great time and she’s my friend.

To read the interview in full click here to visit


Matt Halpern interview – Periphery &

Matt Halpern – Periphery and

Matt Halpern is from Washington DC, home of his current band, Periphery, who have just released their second album and toured as Dream Theater’s support last year. He also runs, which allows people to have lessons online, and in person, with their favourite musicians, even while they are on tour. I caught up with Matt over the Meinl Drum Festival weekend in June, where he told me about life on the road with Periphery, touring with Dream Theater and branching out in the current climes of the music industry.

Tell me your drumming story so far

I started at a very young age, maybe three or four. I was tapping all the time on pots and pans so my parents saw that I had an aptitude for it and they put things in front of me to see what I would do. I had these kiddy drum sets and I would play on those until they would break and eventually they realised they needed to get me a real drum set. By the time I was five or six I had my first real drum set and I started taking lessons, just very basic stuff. I learnt how to read and about the basic rudiments and then was told to play a lot of songs. I practised how to learn to memorise music and it got me into liking music through drumming.

Because I was so used to playing with songs and learning different styles of music, I found other musicians that were older than me to play with. Because I”d started young I was more advanced than the kids who were my age so I was playing with kids that were older than me, writing music, recording music and then one band led to another and another. By the time I hit middle school and high school I was doing a lot of different drum competitions with drum solos; I”ve done the Guitar Center and so forth, then throughout high school I began teaching students that were a lot younger than me to get the feel for it.

I was 16 years old and needed to pay my gas bill for driving my new car so I started teaching. I used a lot of the stuff I”d used when I was coming up and when I hit college and went to university I paid a lot of my bills through gigging locally in the Baltimore/Maryland area. There were a lot of different bars I would play in the DC area; I”d play a few times a week with guys that were way better than me at their instruments and they taught me how to play in different settings, whether it”s a tiny bar or a big venue. I learnt how to play appropriately in different venues and for different styles of music and I was always into pushing myself and trying to get better. I”d grown up in an area where there were a lot of good drummers around so I was always into drum solos and being on top of all the new cool tricks to do.

After playing in certain bands I travelled around and did some session work and got hired by groups. In 2005 I left a touring band that I was with to join some friends to play and write a bit, then I joined a band called Animals As Leaders. Animals As Leaders is a really popular instrumental group now in the progressive and fusion world but that didn”t last very long because at the time I was a big fan of the band Periphery and it just so happened that timing wise Animals As Leaders was taking a little break. Periphery lost their drummer and needed someone to fill in so because I was friendly with them they asked me. I”ve been working with them ever since and we”ve been touring for a little over three years. We”re about to release our second album and it”s pretty crazy for me. I”m drumming a lot, teaching a lot and working on my various projects, which are Band Happy and Periphery.

To read the interview in full click here to visit


Scott Chapman & Felix Higginbottom (NYJO) interview

Scott and Felix

Scott Chapman and Felix Higginbottom – NYJO

The National Youth Jazz Orchestra (NYJO) has a reputation for producing some of the music industry’s top players and singers. Scott Chapman currently holds the drum chair, Felix Higginbottom is on percussion and they have just recorded a new NYJO album, which is being launched at The Proms this year.

The guys met up to talk about the big band and the opportunities it can bring to young musicians.

How did you join NYJO?

Scott – My drum teacher told me to go to NYJO so I started off in NYJO 2, which is the younger band for less experienced players. I started off doing that for about two years and got called up to do the first band. At that point I was just sitting in on rehearsals, maybe playing the odd tune. Then I started doing percussion for that band and when the old drummer left I took over.

Felix – I was about 14 and I just wasn’t satisfied with what I was doing at school, our music department was not very strong and none of the people I was playing with particularly pushed me. I think I dropped Bill Ashton a text and he said, ‘We need a dep. There’s a gig in Cambridge. Can you do it?’. So I got my mum to drive me up from Oxford. It came to the gig and Bill handed me the charts about half an hour before and I sh*t myself because it looked so hard; most of it was on vibes. I got through it and nobody noticed that I messed up quite a lot!

I came in from time to time to dep gigs over the years but I never committed to it because of school and Saturday rehearsals; I had school on Saturdays.

Tell me a bit more about NYJO 2 and how it’s structured.

Scott – If you’re newer to big band playing then that’s better suited for you and it’s a really good place to get your sight reading up and to get playing in that environment. The idea is that people get fed through to the first band, which is how I did it, but of course there are people who are already at a good standard who come straight to NYJO 1.

Felix - It’s meant as a training band and there’s a new band as well that’s just formed called NYJO London, which is for anyone in London and it’s another training band. It’s not the same as NYJO 1, which is a professional band. If there’s a space that needs filling in rehearsals the MD will go upstairs and grab someone from NYJO 2 that deserves a shot.

To read the interview in full click here to visit


West End Drummers Part 8 – Tim Weller (Billy Elliot)

Tim Weller

West End Drummers Part 8 – Tim Weller (Billy Elliot)

Tim Weller took over the drum chair on Billy Elliot in 2005 at the Victoria Palace Theatre in London, where the show won an Olivier Award for ‘Best New Musical’. The music is by Elton John and it features some staggeringly talented youngsters. With a show so heavily based on dance the relationship with rhythm is especially important.

Outside the show Tim keeps busy with sessions and pop gigs, including The Divine Comedy, Beverley Craven, and Will Young’s latest album ‘Echoes’, which entered the UK charts at number one at the end of 2011.

In the following interview Tim talks about the use of vintage drums in recording, the importance of a good relationship with your deps and playing drum kit on computer game music with the London Philharmonic…

What first got you into playing drums?

My junior school had a very forward thinking music teacher, so as well as there being a school orchestra, they had a pop band that played covers… quite an eclectic mix – a lot of heavy metal, a bit of Creedence Clearwater Revival, and some John Denver. This band used to do concerts at local schools and play in assembly. On Saturday mornings, while all the staff had meetings, there was an extended hymn practice and they would play a few tunes. When I was seven the guy that was in the band was called Steven Bachelor and everyone thought he was really good. He had a big yellow Tama kit which was always up on the stage and he was very, very cool. Everyone used to sit in assembly and look up at him so I guess I got interested in it then. He was the first person who made me think, ‘I want to do that’.

I was about 11 when I took over the gig, sharing it with one or two other people. One Summer we went on a tour, which was essentially a school trip, to France in these two minibuses stuffed with gear. They drove us all the way to the South of France playing in youth hostels on the way and then a couple of years later we made an album (which I will never play to anyone). We also did a tour to America and Canada, which was great. It was this music teacher who promoted it all and it was quite unusual for the time.

Back then there were no grades for drum kit, you couldn’t even study drums in school except classical percussion. I did a little bit of that but drum kit didn’t really exist as an instrument in the education system at all.  It was only later when I’d left school that I really started studying anything. I went to Drummer’s Collective for a bit and then to Bob Armstrong who I’ve been with on and off ever since; he is fabulous.

I was really into heavy metal as an 11 year old; Rainbow, Iron Maiden, Motorhead, Whitesnake and Deep Purple. From obsessively reading the backs of record sleeves I saw drummers like Ian Paice and Cozy Powell shift through different bands. Like any teenager, I liked the idea of what you imagine that lifestyle would be like. Then I noticed Simon Phillips who started cropping up in credits and I followed his career. He was the first person who I became aware of as a session rather than a band player and I thought that that would be even better.

A local drummer from Tunbridge Wells, where I’m from, took me under his wing and he used to make me compilation tapes of Billy Cobham, Steve Gadd, Lenny White, Simon Phillips, all those sorts of people. I used to hang around in the local music shop and joined as many local bands as I could. I also hooked up with Pete Thomas from Elvis Costello’s band and he used to let me watch him rehearse. He was always really helpful.

How did you join the show ‘Billy Elliot’?

I knew the trumpet player who was on it and he introduced me to Dave Adams who had the drum chair and let me sit in. He’s a fantastic drummer. They had had quite a long exclusive, and he was probably desperate to have a night off, so one night he said, ‘Here’s a pad, you can learn it if you like’. I learnt it and depped on it and then, when he left to do The Lion King, I got lucky and got the gig.

To read the interview in full click HERE to visit